Modern Concrete Grew from Traditional Rammed Earth

In the book Concrete: The Vision of a New Architecture Peter Collins describes how the origins of modern concrete evolved from technological developments pertaining directly to the traditional use of rammed earth in France. He writes:

“…when concrete did again come into use as a building material, it evolved from an entirely independent, and much more humble origin: pisé [rammed earth]. The peculiarity of pisé construction thus lay not only in the economy of using earth as a building material, but in the process whereby a building was moulded into shape, and it was inevitable that sooner or later some far-sighted individuals should appreciate the revolutionary possibilities of this method of construction, and seek to extend it by improving on the material used. The most obvious improvement was to increase the cohesion of the earth by mixing in a binding material such as mortar, and this had in fact already been done by [Jean-Baptiste] Rondelet when repairing the château in Ain. It was left to others to experiment with suitable hard aggregates, and produce modern concrete, or, as it was termed in French, béton. The first of the pioneers was an ingenious but ambitions building labourer named François Cointeraux.” – Peter Collins, Concrete: The Vision of a New Architecture (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004), 20-21.

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